Four libraries are set to reopen across North Ayrshire for the first time since lockdown as the fate of services hangs in the balance.

Kilbirnie and Irvine libraries will reopen week beginning May 10, with Stevenston and Largs libraries reopening week beginning May 17 with all group activities remaining off for the time being.

Kilbirnie and Stevenston Employability Hubs which are based within the libraries will also reopen.

These libraries will be available for residents to enter, browse and borrow books on:

· Kilbirnie – Mondays, 10am-1pm and 2-5pm (from May 10)

· Irvine library – Tuesdays, 2-5pm, and Thursdays, 10am-1pm (from May 11)

· Stevenston – Mondays, 10am-1pm and 2-5pm (from May 17)

· Largs – Tuesdays, 2-5pm, and Thursdays, 10am-1pm (from May 18)

We previously reported the fate of 40 community centres, libraries and halls in North Ayrshire will be decided on June 6. People have until tomorrow (May 5) to comment on future proposals for the buildings

The council is considering closing the Dreghorn Library in Irvine and moving it to Townend Community Centre while Irvine Library could also be relocated to Bridgegate House under proposals with the building rented out.

Meanwhile bosses are looking at using Springside Library for another function and lending books through click and collect services.

Registration services will also be available at Kilbirnie library. Customer should check the library social media and national media for changes or further announcements.

In addition to the reopening of four libraries, the popular ‘Call, Click and Collect’ service which was launched last year after the initial lockdown, has already restarted and is now available across all local libraries.

This allows residents to borrow up to four books for four weeks. You can get involved either by calling your nearest library or visiting the Council’s online catalogue.

Requests can be made for a genre selection and library staff will then select the books, package them up and keep them in quarantine for 72 hours before they can be collected.

Staff will call or email customers to confirm a collection day and offer a one-hour collection slot. It is not yet possible to request books from other library branches.

Rhona Arthur, Head of Connected Communities, said: “We are all so very excited at the thought of welcoming people back into Irvine, Kilbirnie, Largs and Stevenston libraries – offering some normality to our residents after a hugely challenging year.

“While this is a joyous occasion and indeed long-awaited by many, we must stress that the experience will not be the same as it was before as we have to ensure we keep everyone safe and follow national guidelines. We kindly ask that all visitors to our libraries please following the safety measures that are in place.

“We are also delighted to be able to offer our Call, Click and Collect service again. We launched this last year after the first lockdown to allow people to borrow physical books - something that we know is valued by so many. We were blown away by the popularity of the service and are glad to see the service back up and running now that lockdown is easing.

“Our Libraries team has been working tirelessly to make all of this happen safely, while also serving our communities through our Hub provision. We hope our residents enjoy the resumption of library services and we look forward to seeing them in the coming weeks.”

A number of measures have been put in place to keep both staff and customers safe including limiting the number of people allowed inside each building at one time, as well as the amount of time each person can spend browsing.

Face coverings will be mandatory as well as social distancing and there will also be a one-way system in place. Screens and hand sanitising stations will be positioned throughout each library, soft furnishings have been removed and toilets will be out of use.

Any books returned will be quarantined for 72 hours before becoming available for borrowing again.

No library activities or groups are planned at this stage of the pilot, however many of these remain available online.

The council also offers an extensive digital library and cultural resources. These can be found here.